It’s amazing what can happen with time and commitment .
As noted in the title of this blog, sweet AbraHAM has finally found his forever home after a year and a half of being in rescue! We couldn’t be happier for him, as he is in such wonderful hands with his forever family. As mentioned a few posts down, he is now the brother of Miss Maleah, the Great Pyrenees that came to us in such horrific shape (Maleah’s Link). He also has a brother, a lab mix named Maddox.
As I’ve mentioned before, placements are often bittersweet, for you know what’s best yet your heart still aches a bit when they leave. Some impress upon you more or differently than others, but you’re always glad to see them in good, loving hands.
Abraham’s placement was quite significant for me. While Maleah’s move to a new home was one of great effect, coming from a painful past both physically and emotionally and blossoming into such an incredible beauty who is full of personality, Abraham had a different affect on me. In fact, I think he had an impact on me that I’ve never experienced in my 10yrs of rescue.
After my move, Abraham was one of the first four dogs I took in (meaning, I picked up 4 from the shelter at the same time). I’d received an email with his photo and 3 other pyrs (Winnie, Claire and Anna), so I went to the shelter to meet them, later taking them into rescue. He and Claire came from a seizure (taken away from their owner) that included several animals, and both of them were in poor shape. Abraham was the worst, for he was emaciated, had open wounds, and was heartworm positive.
Abraham also came with emotional baggage. He was, simply put, terrifically unruly. My guess is that he was tied up his entire life because he had no manners, no training, and was an abundance of extreme, powerful energy.
I won’t lie…Abraham was difficult and most trying. There were times I honestly didn’t know how I was going to get through to him. There were also times when I wondered “Why in the world did I pull this dog??”
He was an extra large breed (although lower in weight due to emaciation), had enormous paws and a huge head, a drive and determination that was incredible, accompanied by extreme strength and retriever energy. When I walked toward his kennel he would bark incessantly and quite loudly, and nothing stopped him until I was inside. As I entered his kennel, he would jump eye level with me, as well as jump ON me in full force, landing with one fair, barking PLOP…similar to a piano landing on you after crashing through a window and falling from the 21st floor. He attempted to show affection by coming at you with mouth wide open, yet closing when it got to your face…or rather ON your face. So, basically, his kisses were like bites. Unintentional and not aggressive, but big and bite-y, none the less, therefore causing some ouchies (No, he NEVER bit or pressed his teeth into my skin or got ugly). I’d try hugging him and he’d growl. Not attacking, no snarling or showing of his teeth, but he’d simply say “Uuugghh.” After a few days, however, he learned to enjoy my hugs and kisses, and even smiled a time or two.
He was horribly, horribly mannered. He’d charge out of his kennel when I opened the door, race off around the yard as if he were a Kentucky Derby participant, knocking over whoever was in his path. Sometimes it was a dog, sometimes it was a human, and many a time I was literally knocked off of my feet, finding huge bruises when I regained composure. When he’d see me from across the yard he would sprint toward me, full throttle, leap from about 5 feet away, and land on top of me, full force, mouth wide open. I was literally in so much pain from his barreling me over that I had to carry a water bottle with me to deter him, dodge him, and sometimes even protect myself by “catching” him and making him lie down until he relaxed. He had no idea he was being obnoxious and unintentionally hurtful (aka: bruises and scratches), and he didn’t understand why he had restrictions or rules. So for a while, he challenged me. It was exhausting, infuriating at times, and sometimes it even made it difficult to like him.
He also viciously charged the cats when he’d see them and ended up picking enormous fights with the male dogs. They were not happy with him in the slightest, had no mercy on him, and it was quite stressful for me. Socialization is important when you have multiple dogs, and it’s typically a slow process to prevent problems. However, even doing it slowly, I began to worry that it was impossible to make headway with this boy…he was just a redneck, fight pickin’, not-gonna-listen dog that could care less what I said to him or attempted to teach him.
Daily we struggled through this, and it was hard. Through time he learned to socialize and play nice with the females, so his playtime in the big yard was restricted to the girls, and I rotated dogs so that he could have big yard time, while figuring out potty breaks for the small dogs (which he was also not good with). We moved him to a large fenced area in the yard so he could get more exercise, and I’d go out there and throw the ball with him, spend time with him when I fed him and basically tried to work on his training and behaviors. Very slowly we started making progress, and I began to see the real Abraham emerge.
I had issues with him living in an area by himself while he watched everyone else come in and out as they pleased. It obviously limited our time together, and he couldn’t play with his buddies on a regular basis. However, I was so afraid of him hurting or killing my cats, as well as fighting the males. Those are fights you do not want to happen. An angered guardian dog (the Pyrs) are not a dog to mess with, and when another dog is challenging them or appearing to cause havoc in the herd, they are not pleased. So, keeping him separated was my only safe option. He came in for the ice/snow and into a crate (which he was surprisingly great for and very well behaved once in the crate), and while outside had plenty of wind and shade, even a sprinkler to cool off (he’d not go into a pool of water, oddly), as well as his toys. When I injured my back, Mother would go out and spend some time with him in my place.
He still had his big yard playtime and enjoyed the girls, but often I’d look out at him and my heart would break as he watched the other dogs play. I felt like a failure. I had made very little progress with this dog over a lengthy amount of time, and he was just so incredibly difficult. I just couldn’t be pleased with myself, and I often wondered if I’d only made his life even more miserable with my frustration of his actions, his being separated, less time with me, etc. I’d planned on taking him to training with a professional, but due to my back injury, I had to postpone it. I didn’t feel like much of a rescuer, despite seeing his sweet side shine through. I think that only added to my sadness.
Abraham had been on Heartguard since he tested low positive, but upon a recheck he had worsened. As a result we went ahead and scheduled his heartworm treatment. I was concerned about this because he would have to stay crated inside and be leash walked for four weeks. Not only was I worried about his energy level, but also worried because of the cats indoors, males coming in and out, and my fear of how he’d respond to them. Since you have to remain very still during recovery, I had no idea if he’d get too wound up and give himself a heart attack, if he’d try to eat a cat as it walked by, or if he’d try to attack a male dog if it happened to get too close for his comfort when I was taking him out the front door. I was, honestly, truly afraid for him and the other animals. So, I prayed about it.
During his recovery period, Abraham made an amazing transformation. The frantic, disobedient, energetic dog began to fade away, and a warm, gentle and obedient dog began to surface. I got the impression that he was studying the other dogs and our everyday activities, and it seemed that he began absorbing some of their “good dog” traits. In addition and amazingly so, during his potty breaks one of the cats started walking with us. She even started rubbing all over Abraham, showing him affection. After a quick sniff, Abraham accepted her, and the cat became our walking buddy. Abraham would even give her kisses. Oddly, even my timid cat wasn’t afraid of him. Perhaps they knew something I didn’t.
By the time Abraham was able to come out of his kennel, he’d slowed down, smiled at his foster brothers and sisters and even kissed a few as we’d walk by them coming in or going out during potty breaks. He was more at ease, and I think more comfortable with himself and where he belonged. He still barked at me when I’d come home or if he had to potty, but it wasn’t as urgent as it once had been. He’d matured.
He had a few setbacks with the dogs when he initially came out and mingled with the others, but those quickly came to a halt. He was soon running around with both the boys and the girls, playing, smiling, and I’d swear even laughing. He enjoyed himself, his brothers and sisters, and he acted as if every day was beautiful. He was a completely different dog…and he was happy.
He had perfect manners indoors, and I eventually learned that the sweet boy was afraid of storms. I was mortified since he’d been outside so much. The guilt was horrendous, and all I wanted to do was comfort him. I hated myself for not realizing sooner that all he needed was more companionship. In all of my wisdom, in my attempts to prevent disaster, I’d not given him a fair chance. I apologized to him on more than one occasion.
Abraham grew into an amazing boy who was affectionate, trusting, cuddling, well mannered, and pretty much perfect (with a little extra meat on his bones…er…uh…fat). He respected me, the other dogs, and his grandma. He loved trips, playing fetch, and chasing or wrestling with his brothers and sisters. He loved to meet people and cherished his hugs. He still barked profusely at dinner time, but I suppose when you have everyone else barking, you have to make sure that mommy doesn’t forget to feed you, too 😉
When Maleah’s family told me they were interested in adopting Abraham, I knew why I was supposed to pull him out of the pound. You see, every now and again I will have tunnel vision on a dog. As ridiculous as it sounds, everything “blacks out” except for my focus on the dog’s face. It’s not every dog, it’s not frequent, but there are times when it does take place. In the past year or two I’ve learned that when this happens, it happens for a reason. The good Lord is telling me that I am supposed to take this dog. It’s always hard, we have our miserable times, and I always struggle with myself, but in the end the dog is incredible.
I had this tunnel vision the moment I looked over at Abraham in his kennel at the pound. Quick, dark, and his face focused. I agreed to take him before I knew what I was doing. Now I know why…because this tattered and torn, overgrown, obnoxious lug was destined to be a prodigious dog…and he was destined to be loved. After suffering through the first several years of his life, he is now curled up in a soft, cushy human bed with his new best friend, canine brother and sister by his side, snuggled in an abundance of love.
Tears fall down my face as I type this, not only because of Abraham’s growth, but because of my own. He taught me so many lessons; he gave me so much love. Now he is a part of a terrific family that will allow him to flourish even more and provide him with the multiple joys that I could not. He is where he belongs.
Maleah and Abraham…my two miracles living life to the fullest…together.
And that, my friends, is what rescue is all about.